State Champ. That phrase changes when you arrive at Nationals.
Instead of being the only one with that title in my event, I was now one of 54 with that title. That’s right. Fifty-four state breakaway champions.
As the first round neared, I became so excited yet nervous to show what I had. I knew for a fact I had the horse on which to win this whole thing.
I had the best coach(es) in the stands and behind me in the box. And last but not least, I had the best pusher a roper could ask for.
When I backed in that box, I felt confident and full of pride in what I and this little sorrel had done just this year.
They always talk about how loud the crowd is here at Nationals and how you can barely speak over them. However, standing in that corner the sound shrunk behind my dad saying beside me, “You got this kid. You deserve this. Now go get one roped.”
When the chute banged, I could feel that little horse lunge out for the calf and my rope left my hand in a hurry. I patted him on the neck just like I’ve always done and rode forward.
Now, hearing that I broke the barrier, adding 10 seconds to what would’ve been a round leading run, broke my heart. But as I rode out, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of people — and some even my competitors — tell me how great of a run it was, and how quick I roped.
That’s what I love about this sport: we are all competing for the same prize, yet we all cheer each other on to grasp it.